Our 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Annie Woodarek. The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes outstanding volunteer work in promoting the goals of River Keepers. Annie volunteered the last couple of years with River Keepers. Thanks to her, we finally have some really good pictures of the Catfish Cup, Celebrate Our Red, Race the Red and the Red River Water Festival. Annie has also planted trees at Reforest the Red and has gone out water quality monitoring with us. Annie does everything with commitment and a smile on her face which is much appreciated.
Our 2017 Friend of the River Award was presented to Vijay Gaba. His wife, Anu, accepted the award on his behalf. The Friend of the River Award recognizes outstanding leadership in the promotion of a River Keepers goal. Vijay believes in our vision that all people value our Red River as a vital part of our community. His respect for the Red is very obvious in the way that he talks about it and utilizes it. One of River Keepers goals is to “Maintain and increase appropriate recreational use of the Red River.” Vijay participates (and wins!) in our Race the Red canoe and kayak races and also the River Paddling Excursions. Another one of our goals is to “Increase public awareness of the Red River, its uses, and water related issues by disseminating accurate information and engaging in educational activities.” Vijay has volunteered at the Red River Water Festival to help educate our youth about the importance of water.
Our 2017 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Jon Evert. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals or organizations on their exceptional contributions or career-long commitment to River Keepers or the Red River Basin. Jon is a farmer who understands the woos of too much and too little water. He also understands water quality issues. He realizes consensus building is a process that takes time but is essential in stakeholders beginning to talk and build trust to solve water issues throughout the basin. Jon came to River Keepers Board of Directors with a long history of service to our community and the water world: The International Coalition, City of Comstock, Clay County Commission, the Red River Basin Commission, the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Clay-Wilkin Public Heath, Barnesville Lions and Lutheran Social Services just to name a few. We are pleased he has agreed to join River Keepers Executive Committee this next year. Jon has truly made an impact on the Red River, our community and the watershed.
Our 2017 Good Neighbor Award was presented to the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. The Good Neighbor Award recognizes individuals or organizations whose property touches the Red River. Their outstanding efforts may include upkeep of River property which maintains the integrity of the River, activities which have enhanced the River or the enjoyment of the River, or any unique effort to befriend the River. Their outstanding efforts to incorporate all their vision statement into their everyday plans, makes them an exceptional neighbor to the Red River. Since we share the same river, River Keepers staff and the Greenway Specialist have learned from each other’s experiences on river and greenway related issues such as access, trails, event management, and public perceptions. For this we are grateful. Most recently, The Greenway has worked with the Boathouse on the Red to help a community group rent canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards. They also put in an accessible access downtown for fishing and launching vessels which is one more piece to the puzzle of making the Red River Water Trail something that everybody can enjoy.